An agreement with a lifesaving firm will bring some students at SUNY Cobleskill closer to their career dreams in a field expected to blossom over the next decade.
Students enrolled in the college’s Paramedic Program will have an opportunity to work part-time as emergency medical technicians for Cooperstown Medical Transport, and those who complete the college’s program and score well on the state exam will be guaranteed a job there, according to a release from the college.
SUNY Cobleskill’s Paramedic Program offers both certificate and associate’s degree courses which prepare students to take the state Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic exam.
Cooperstown Medical Transport has grown from a company with one ambulance transporting non-emergencies in 1980 to a paramedic-level, first-response firm with 15 emergency response vehicles covering Chenango, Delaware and Otsego counties, according to the company’s website.
Cooperstown Medical Transport Director of Operations Desiree Kersman said roughly half of the company’s call volume is 911 calls to either provide advanced life support service in conjunction with local volunteer companies or because volunteers are not available.
“I think that this is an ever-changing industry that is always in demand. We’re really optimistic and excited about this partnership, to be able to provide employment and get solid paramedics into our practice,” Kersman said.
SUNY Cobleskill currently has 27 students expecting to take the exam next fall, said program director Howard E. Huth III. A cooperative program with the Cooperstown company will give students important experience they need to become proficient in the work of saving lives, he said.
“It can bridge the gap between lectures and labs and actually doing it in the field. They get that real, hands-on experience,” Huth said.
To qualify, students have to score an 85 or better on the state exam.
Huth said the pay rate for paramedics varies depending on where they are.
Large, municipal services can pay as much as $60,000 a year, with full-time benefits, but that’s a rare exception in the Capital Region, he said.
Volunteers, of course, aren’t paid — but Huth sees a trend towards the need for paid services because people are working more and finding less time to volunteer.
“For years nationally, and especially regionally, we’ve seen the imminent death of the volunteer upon us, not only in EMS but in a number of different areas,” Huth said.
People are working second and even third jobs, he said, while certification requirements and training become more detailed.
“It makes it harder for a person to volunteer. Finding volunteer EMTs during the daytime is becoming extremely difficult,” he said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMTs and paramedics earned a median annual salary of $30,360 in 2010, or about $14.60 per hour.
There were an estimated 226,500 EMT and paramedics nationwide that year, a number that’s expected to blossom by 33 percent by 2020, considered “much faster than average,” according to the BLS.
More information on the college’s Paramedic Program can be found online at www.cobleskill.edu.